Clark County adds 600 jobs, unemployment drops

Clark County added 600 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since last May, according to state figures released Tuesday.

The numbers didn’t surprise Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Chamber of Greater Springfield. Manufacturing firms have steadily continued to seek workers, and interest has picked up in areas like health care as well, she said.

OhioMeansJobs is planning a job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. May 21, and about half of the available spots for employers have already been filled.

“I’m seeing a lot of health care and manufacturing, of course, and some staffing services who are assisting a wide variety of companies,” Donahoe said.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.8 percent in Champaign County, and employment remained flat at about 19,000 workers in the county. The size of the civilian labor force dipped by about 100 workers.

However, figures from the state show Champaign County added about 300 jobs compared to the same time last year, and the unemployment rate has improved compared to March of last year, when the rate was 5.5 percent.

In Springfield, the region saw the biggest improvement in professional and business services, which added 200 jobs. Smaller gains occurred in financial activities, educational and health services, and leisure and hospitality, which each added about 100 jobs.

Several area firms are hiring, Donahoe said, including Speedway, which continues to seek workers for its corporate offices in Enon and Springfield. Along with jobs at its corporate offices, the company recently hosted a hiring event in South Vienna for jobs like customer service representatives, service personnel, shift leader trainees and co-manager trainees for its convenience store locations.

Health care companies are also seeking registered nurses and home care workers, Donahoe said.

Manufacturing and logistics firms will also be represented at next month’s job fair, she said. Previous hiring events have included about 38 employers but Donahoe said she is hoping to find space for a few more if possible.

Firms like Palmer Manufacturing are looking for qualified workers, owner Jack Palmer said. That business recently signed a $600,000 joint venture agreement with MAUS S.r.l., an Italian firm that makes automatic grinding and turning equipment. The two companies will combine resources to create a new, third company called Palmer MAUS North America that will be based in Springfield.

That deal will lead to about five new jobs initially, and Palmer said he is also seeking workers for his original business as well, including welders, mechanical engineers and mechanical assemblers. Manufacturers nationwide are struggling to fill those kinds of positions, he said.

“It’s very difficult to find people who have mechanical skills,” Palmer said.

Palmer Manufacturing also recently reached a partnership with Viridis3D to distribute and manufacture a robotic 3D printer system for foundries in North and South America. The technology will allow companies to produce more parts in house instead of shipping products around the world, Palmer said. The company hosted an open house to show off a new office space, as well as the new 3D printer system in Springfield on Tuesday.

Training is also available to help out-of-work residents find new jobs, Donahoe said.

“There are openings,” Donahoe said. “If someone wants to work there are viable jobs there and there’s a lot of training that allows someone to come in and get those additional skills that they need to find a job they might be interested in. Really, the only thing stopping a job seeker is them right now.”

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